Be More Mindful of the Planet & Each Other with This Dinner Date Publication
Interview by Mike O'Donnell / Editor
Date Paper is a new quarterly publication that curates primal dishes in service of your health and the health of the planet. “The First Date” launches today, on Earth Day, with 100% of the proceeds for this first issue donated to Farmworker Justice. Each issue includes recipes for a primal three-course dinner and breakfast. It’s quite simple in form: cooking a thoughtful meal for someone and having a fun night over food. Food that is not only delicious but also well-considered in the way it is raised, delivered, and consumed.
In our interview below, WNW Member Simonetta Nieto and Pat McCusker discuss the origins of Date Paper, the ways in which their respective creative skillsets were put to use, and how the project has become a labor of love with a variety of artists coming together. The first issue features artwork by WNW Members Bailey Sullivan and Elena Boils, as well as Lauren Tamaki and Grant Vernon. “I love that we can express human connection through the publication by connecting with the people we interview and artists we bring in to illustrate the issue. It’s like we are starting a little community.”
What was the initial inspiration behind Date Paper?
Pat: I was experiencing health difficulties and decided to give paleo a try. To my surprise, I started feeling better. However, we were going around New York and it was just difficult to eat out. We thought "how cool would it be to open up a cute paleo/primal restaurant called Date?" The name Date comes from the fruit, but it’s also a fun play on words.
Simonetta: Opening a restaurant now is definitely beyond our capacity. We aren’t ready to quit our creative careers just yet, so I suggested we create a publication since I know how to do that! I thought: How could we recreate a restaurant experience within a publication?
What were some of the challenges and breakthroughs that came with the undertaking?
Simonetta: This is our first big collaboration together, so communication was our biggest challenge at the beginning. We got started without a plan, but since I’ve produced publications for about 10 years, I had all the pieces and deadlines in my head. However, Pat didn’t even know when we were sending this first issue to the printer or what I was working on because I hadn’t told him. So we started having meetings before work and set up a calendar with deadlines for each of us—it was smooth sailing after that.
Pat: Another big breakthrough was realizing that it had to be more than just a primal dinner date publication. It could be controversial to just eat paleo without thinking about where your food is coming from. We had in some sense a responsibility that if we were going to promote eating this way, we should also be promoting how to do so in a manner that does the least amount of harm to the animals and the planet.
As we continued working on this, we discovered just how important community is. The whole idea of Date is connecting with someone over food. How can we best display that from all angles in a publication? Showcasing these artists and food pioneers became an additional way of presenting human connection.
How did your respective creative skillsets and experiences specifically come in handy for Date Paper?
Simonetta: I come from a journalism and design background, so publications are second nature to me. It was fairly easy to split responsibilities because of this. I worked on the art direction, design, and editorial concept, and let Pat take care of writing the recipes and conducting the interviews.
Pat: Eating primal most of the time forced me to be creative in the kitchen. The more I cooked, the more enjoyed it. The publication is a great excuse for me to share with other people just how delicious wholesome food can be.
What makes you proudest of this project so far?
Simonetta: I love that we can express human connection through the publication by connecting with the people we interview and artists we bring in to illustrate the issue. It’s like we are starting a little community. Plus we get to help organizations while creating something we love!
What are your hopes for Date Paper?
Pat: I hope that the issue actually does what it intends to do, which is create a fun dinner experience. It would be great for people to actually try the recipes and enjoy each other’s company.